End of Month View 2016 – The Shameful Front Garden!

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It’s the end of January and so time for a new view for the End of Month View meme.  In a bid to make myself really focus on the front garden I have decided to air my dirty linen in public so to speak and have this as the focus for the meme this year.  Any one who has read this blog for some years will recall that the front garden was the focus of the EOMV meme in 2013 and you can see a round up of that year’s posts on the subject here.

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The two photos above should give you an idea of the layout of the front garden and yes the lawn, if we are audacious enough to call it a lawn, is looking awful.  It needs a good cut as the grass doesn’t seem to have stopped growing but the garden nearest the house can be in shade nearly all day meaning that it doesn’t dry out very well. In fact the whole lawn is full of moss which is a good indicator of how damp it can for most of the year.  We also think there is a spring which runs along under the beech hedge, although I suspect it is one of those springs which appears when there are high water tables. I think the above photo distorts the perspective and it seems that the border to the left of the lawn is quite wide whilst the border at the end of the lawn is quite narrow – in fact it is the opposite way round.

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This photo gives you a better indicator of how narrow the driveway border is and also demonstrates how unhealthy the lawn is.  This border has a bit of an orange theme going on with the libertias, a number of different crocosmia, geums (although more red than orange), tulip ballerina  and a Grevillia vicotriae which has orange flowers. There is an edging on the driveway side of oregano, a very yellow leaved one, and on the lawn side Alchemilla mollis. When I squared the lawn off, it was formerly oval, I went through a period of being obsessed with accentuating the shape of the lawn with edging of one plant.  I tried an approach of having a reduced plant pallet and going for impact but it just jarred with me.  I started breaking this repetitive planting up with the addition of a couple of stipa tennuissima and also the libertia but it needs something else so I shall be watching this year to try to decide what that elusive something might be – possibly some bigger foliage.

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Some might recall that I had a row of Deschampsia along the end of the lawn but if you read the post from the end of 2013, you will see that, I concluded that this was creating a screen like a barrier at the end of the lawn.  I have spent the last two years continuing to struggle with the front garden.  However back in the summer Kate from The Barn Garden visited and pointed out the obvious to me that I should really take the same approach with the front garden as I have with the rest of the garden and indulge my love of foliage and architectural plants.  It is so obvious it is ridiculous.  So I have re-jigged the planting back late in the summer adding various plants that were lurking in pots on the patio or needed moving from elsewhere.  In went a melianthus major, a phormium, euphoribia rigida and some bearded irises.  The various bergenias which had replaced the Deschampsia in a near row along the front were re-arranged into clumps.  As shrubby salvias seem to do well in this locations as does the cistus I also added a rosemary and sage.  I am really pleased with this new approach, it feels right, so this year I will be watching to see how it progresses and whether anything needs to be added.

Finally if you look at the top photos you will see there is a border running along the beech hedge and next door’s garage wall.  This is quite a narrow border and has another row of alchemilla mollis – when these flower on both sides of the lawn it looks great but far too regimented for me.  I have also added some aquilegia seedlings which had been hanging around on the patio for far too long.  However, I think this border could really benefit from the addition of some ferns to add some contrast and height.  That would of course give me another excuse to buy more ferns – not that I am obsessed with them at all!

So this is the view I shall be boring you with at the end of each month for the next year. Any one can join in with the meme and you can use it as you wish.  Some like to give a tour of their garden, some like to focus on one particular area – what ever works for you.  All I ask is that you add a link to your post in the comment box on my post and that you link in your post to this blog – that way we can all connect with each other and pop by for a visit.

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39 Comments Add yours

  1. Well, I guess this will concentrate your mind on the front garden for the year!

  2. Diana Studer says:

    still teasing apart inherited plants as I try to develop my colour themes.
    So far the blue and white is the most convincing ish.
    http://eefalsebay.blogspot.co.za/2016/01/our-false-bay-garden-in-january.html

  3. Linda says:

    You are really hard on yourself. To most of us it looks good and just needs tweaking as you move forward. The birch is a beautiful statement.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Thanks Linda. I love the tree my sons bought it for me years ago

  4. Christina says:

    Hi Helen, I just tried to leave a comment and the link to my post, but it didn’t seem work. So here we go again. In case you get two comments from me, please feel free to delete the second.

    I don’t think that your front yard looks bad at all, but I am curious to see how you will improve it over the course of this year.

    Coincidentally I have chosen part of my front yard for the participation in this years EoMV meme as well. Here is my link:

    http://www.organicgardendreams.com/2016/01/end-of-month-view-front-yard-side-bed.html

    Thanks for hosting this great meme this year, again!
    Warm regards,

    Christina

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Christine
      Comment received. Thanks joining in again this year.

  5. annincumbria says:

    Do you really need the lawn ?

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      You are the second person to ask that Ann and it’s something I have wondered for a while

    2. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Ann
      Probably not, see my response to other such comments. There seems to be a consensus that the lawn should go

  6. jenhumm116 says:

    Hi Helen, I think there are already plenty of positives here, but I love your idea of building out the srtructural, foliage planting. I’m sure you’ll do it beautifully.

    Here’s mine for this month – and I even managed to take some photos in the sunshine!

    https://duverdiary.wordpress.com/2016/01/30/end-of-month-view-january-2016/

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Jen
      Thank you, I will pop over and check out your garden. Thank you also for joining in again this year

  7. Renee says:

    It will be great to see what you will do with your front garden!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Renee
      It’s funny I hadn’t intended to make any major changes but it seems that I may have subconsciously implied this and having read Comments I can feel various ideas forming

  8. Susan says:

    I would also ask if you need the lawn? I would reduce it considerably, soften the edges and change the shape. Add more of the plants you’ve mentioned (crowd plant!) and narrow the entrance so its not all visible at once and one feels invited to go in to explore. It can be frustrating trying to work out how to revamp an area that doesn’t work for you, but its an opportunity to grow more of the plants you love

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Susan
      It interesting how many have queried if I need the front lawn. It’s something I have pounded on and off for a while. The comments have made me start thinking again. I need to be able to visualise what it would look like before I can move forward. I think as a starting point there needs to be a third tree to complete a triangle with the other two trees, something small like a cornus mas. Then I think I need to widen the path that runs in front of the house a bit. And then I need to decide what feel I want in this space. I keep seeing pebbles and gravel as a natural reaction to removing the lawn but I don’t think I want that at all. Lots of food for thought

  9. Trillium says:

    Love your blog! It’s an inspiration to me, a new blogger. Here’s a link to my blog: trillium.wordpress.com
    As soon as I figure out how to do it, I’ll put a link to yours on my blog.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Trillium
      If you look at widgets, you will see you have lots of options for yr side bar and you can choose links. WordPress also does blogging 101 which you can sign up to and they talk you through setting up I your blog etc.

    2. Trillium says:

      Thanks, Helen. It’s been months since I have had time to blog and I just discovered how to read readers’ comments! So far, I am using the free version of WordPress. Do I need to pay for their widgets? I love your blog, too, and I envy you for managing to find the time to make regular entries. I’m a regular reader!

    3. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Trillium
      No I don’t pay for any extras only extra storage space as have so manny pics on here

  10. My initial though was also to ditch the grass. But I agree with your idea of deciding what to do with the area before you start making major changes. The Dry Garden at Beth Chatto’s Garden in Essex and the gravel garden at The Saville Garden in Berkshire might be a good place to start looking for inspiration.

  11. Alison says:

    Hi Helen I do like your themed years when you focus on your front garden, it was really good last time you did this. I think front gardens are really hard, if you are like I am I just cannot raise the effort to want to spend as much time out there as I do in the back and yet I don;t know why. I will look forward to seeing how your’s develops.

    My EoMR is here http://www.blackberrygarden.co.uk/2016/01/end-of-month-review-january-2016.html

  12. rusty duck says:

    I would add my voice to removing or at least much reducing the lawn. Narrow borders are so difficult to manage, it’s impossible to get away from the single line of plants. Deeper borders give you far more scope, as you know from the back garden. Very little lawn here and whilst maintenance is more intense for the first year or so once plants start to establish they suppress the weeds beautifully. Put in a few shrubs and as time goes by it will more or less look after itself. Go for it!
    Here’s my project for the year.. another deep border!
    http://www.rustyduck.net/2016/01/31/into-the-red/

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Jessica
      It’s bizarre how this post has caused so much thought provoking comments. Current thinking is to widen the path side the house, add a small tree, create a stepping stone path across the space and to give it some sort of focal point add some sort of water feature, along the lines of a overflowing pot fountain

  13. AnnetteM says:

    Hi Helen,
    I look forward to seeing this garden grow and blossom as the year goes on. Ferns are a good addition almost anywhere, so I hope you manage to get some.
    Here is my link for this month
    https://myaberdeengarden.wordpress.com/2016/01/31/end-of-month-view-january/

  14. Sarah says:

    I am really looking forward to watching your progress in the front garden this year Helen. If your back garden is anything to go by we are in for a treat. It has been lovely watching your garden develop and especially witnessing your growing confidence in your garden. I’m joining in this month with our new cottage garden and really hope I can manage to post every month. Here is my link:
    https://homeslip.wordpress.com/2016/01/31/end-of-month-view-January-2016- our-new-garden/

  15. Denise says:

    Hi Helen. Reading your post yesterday inspired me to join your meme. For the first time. Thank you for hosting. http://denisenoniwa.weebly.com/blog–125021252512464/end-of-the-month-view

  16. I’m on time for once! Here’s mine, Helen: https://edinburghgardendiary.wordpress.com/2016/01/31/end-of-month-view-january-206/
    I’m really looking forward to seeing how you develop your front garden. It has a lot of potential.

  17. Cathy says:

    Oh decisions, decisions, Helen… This is the hardest stage isn’t it? Trying to visualise the options and deciding which you like best. When I was making a decision about fences once I printed off some A4 b&w photos of the area and then roughly sketched (because my sketching is only rough!) diffferent alternatives onto them – worth a try? My EOMV is at https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2016/01/31/end-of-month-view-rambling-quickly-through-an-end-of-january-garden/

  18. Anca Tîrcă says:

    I look forward to seeing how your front garden will look like in the near future, you have so many creative ideas, Helen! This is my EoMV: http://timpingradina.blogspot.ro/2016/01/end-of-month-view-january-2016.html

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Anca
      Thanks for joining in again this year. I do enjoy your images

  19. Helene says:

    Hi Helen, here is another vote for at least reducing the lawn – or getting rid of it altogether. I have got rid of the lawn in my own new garden and did the same in my previous garden. I would only consider having a lawn if I had a huge garden so I could have a big, beautiful lawn – those small patches are much more work than they are worth – and especially if they are mostly in shade they never look nice. Just think of how many more plants you can put in! I look forward to following your front garden in the next months.

    Here is the link to my EOMV post for January with a movie of my garden taken this week-end:
    http://graphicality-uk.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/hints-of-spring-eomv-january-16.html

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Helene
      Thanks for joining in the meme again this year. I look forward to following your garden again this year

  20. Hi Helen. I was wondering if I should comment, when you hadn’t asked for ideas! Before reading the others’ thoughts, I desperately wanted to say ‘ditch the lawn’!! I can see a beautiful, curving, subtle pathway (rounded, irregular steppers?) looping around, with overspilling plants. Lots of low level evergreens such as Bergenia and Ajuga close to the path to give green in winter and some ‘space to breathe’ and I love your idea of a water feature. I feel it would be much more ‘Helen’ and much more of a plantswoman’s garden. I look forward to watching how you choose to take it forward!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Janna
      Your comment has really helped me with crystalising my thoughts. I can feel a plan beginning to emerge

  21. Denise says:

    Hi Helen. I thought I left a comment with a link to my very first ‘end of the month view’ yesterday. I guess something went wrong. So here it is again:
    http://denisenoniwa.weebly.com/blog–125021252512464/end-of-the-month-view

    Thank you for hosting the meme.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Denise
      welcome and thanks for joining in

  22. Angie says:

    Your front garden looks very similar in size to mine, you may remember my posts from last year and I love the fact that you have trees in your front garden. Something I was not ballsy enough consider.
    You have plenty of winter interest. I look forward to see how this develops over the coming months Helen. I read from your comments that already those cogs in your head are whirring away on how you can improve/change things – why not just live with it this year and take it from there. I know that’s easier said than done though.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Angie
      I have been living with it for too long and I think I have an itch to tackle it this year. There is definitely going to be another tree/shrub, possibly a cornus mas or something similar. Thanks for joining in again this year.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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